Goodbye to the City in the Sky at 19th and Mercer?

Work in progress (Image: CHS)

Work in progress (Image: CHS)

Speaking of Capitol Hill murals, folks walking around the increasingly bustling intersection of 19th and Mercer might have noticed the City in the Sky mural has gone beige.

We don’t know, exactly, what was behind the building ownership’s decision to cover up the peculiar fantasy depiction of a never-existed topography. The old work faced the new neighbor Tallulah’s. You can still see the three-dimensional relief of a coast line and mountains beyond. But now they’re beige.

The Pelican Bay Foundation provides this history of the work:

Located at the Pelican Bay Artists’ Building, 606 19th Ave. East, Capitol Hill, Seattle. “City in the Sky” is based on a Hopi Indian Myth. The Hopi Indians believed in star constellations and believed in ancient maps that had been drawn as a guide to the spiritual world. The Hopi believed that they existed at the center of the earth or Turtle Island. That beyond Turtle Island was the sky and that beyond the sky were dimensional portals. Beyond the dimensional portals was an area called the Ocean of Pitch, were the beauty of the night sky and the galaxies spun out towards them. Beyond that were the boundaries of the universe. And set along the rim at the boundaries of the universe were where their gods resided. The basic concept for the “City in the Sky” mural included vast landscapes, oceans and plains with artists living in self -contained portals flying high above the world.

“City in the Sky” is Seattle’s first 3-D mural. The mural was a collaboration between artists Don Miles and Don Barrie. It’s 3-D sculpting was done by Don Miles (creator of the Milestone Process) and the concept and painting was done by Don Barrie. The mural took two years to complete. 1975-1977.

The long time owner of the building is real estate investor Ron Danz. The building was at one time home to the Pelican Bay artist cooperative founded by painters Don Barrie and Karin Helmich.

The paint over is subtle enough that there might be hope of a coming re-do of the fantasy coastline. We know work crews at one point a year or two back struggled to chip away a portion of the old mural before surrendering.

Subscribe and support CHS Contributors -- $1/$5/$10 per month

6 thoughts on “Goodbye to the City in the Sky at 19th and Mercer?

  1. Boooo. I love that mural and always stopped to take it in every time I walked past. I love how the windows would “pop”. It really fooled the eye.

    Its a bummer that it’s now gone :(

  2. Rest in Peace

    “The City in the Sky” being painted over, washed out and forgotten. Along with the spirit of community that it once represented. A spirit that no longer has valve in our time… Just another subtle degradation of the soul… It’s happening all around you, you see it everyday. You feel it in your bones…. You’re used to it now and there’s no escaping it… Welcome to the New Dark Age…

    Laugh it off and enjoy the ride… There’s a lot more to come….

  3. A once lovely mural, a landmark, replaced with tagger bait.
    “They paved Paradise and out up a parking lot” in microcosm.

  4. I will hold onto the hope that this is just a primer for a *new* mural that is coming.

    And when that hope dies, I will just lie to myself that the old mural is just frozen in carbonite, Han-Solo-style.